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Northampton father accused of poisoning daughter released on bail



@ecutts_HG
Monday, October 23, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — After more than two years in jail, a father accused of poisoning his daughter with Liquid Plumr has been released on bail.

Hampshire Superior Court Judge Richard Carey approved a defense motion Friday to lower the bail for Christopher Conley of Northampton. Conley pleaded not guilty in September 2015 to charges of attempted murder, assault and battery on a child with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury.

His attorney, Mark K. Bluver of Greenfield, said Conley was able to make the $10,000 bail on Monday. Bail had previously been set at $100,000.

“I have only spoken to him on the phone. He is a little discombobulated,” Bluver said Monday afternoon. “I think he is feeling positive. I think this is an important ruling for him, obviously, but also for the case.”

Conley’s wife, Julie Conley, is also charged in the case. She pleaded not guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a child causing substantial bodily injury and two counts of assault and battery on a child permitting bodily injury. She was earlier released on $100,000 bail.

Prosecutors with the Northwestern district attorney’s office opposed the motion and could not be reached for comment Monday.

Christopher Conley had been in custody since May 20, 2015 when he confessed to injecting Liquid Plumr into his daughter’s cecostomy tube — an implanted tube used to flush the intestines — on April 15, 2015.

At the time of his arraignment in superior court in September 2015, Conley’s attorney Bluver said it was a false confession and that his client is innocent. Conley himself recanted the confession and said it was made to protect his wife and co-defendant Julie Conley, according to court documents.

“In the two and one-half years since this case began, the evidence produced to date completely undermines the confession and supports the conclusion that his confession was false,” Bluver wrote in his motion to set bail.

Bluver argued that the couple’s daughter appeared “well nourished and was not in any visible distress” when she was brought to the hospital on April 15, 2015. The following day, the then 7-year-old girl was running around and feeling much better, Bluver wrote citing a statement a child life specialist made to a Massachusetts State Police trooper.

The girl’s health deteriorated overnight between April 16 and 17.

“If something happened to his daughter that caused her to go into distress, it wasn’t caused by Mr. Conley as he was not present on April 16, 2015,” Bluver wrote.

Conley was released with conditions that he submit to GPS monitoring and that he stay away from his wife and daughter.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.